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Creative ideas with Upcycling

This half term, we understand the need to keep your little (and big) ones occupied - especially if the weather turns!

During lockdown, we have all had to think more creatively and learn to make use of what we have to hand. This has got us thinking about the benefits of upcycling and reusing things that we often just throw away. Creating new things from the old, can be especially great fun for children. It can introduce them to eco-friendly ideas, like reducing our waste to help the planet, while also helping them to find the magic in everyday things.

So to honour the everyday, why not have a go at this craft activity, which transforms an empty milk carton into an elephant!

Materials you will need:
• Empty milk carton
• Scissors
• Pen / marker
• PVA glue
• Paint – For elephant grey mix black, white and blue or alternatively go for vibrant colours!
• A selection of tissue paper
• Embellishments –sequins, rhinestones or anything you have to hand
• Paint/glue brush

To make the elephant
1. Make sure you milk carton is clean and dry. Using a marker, draw a straight line around the carton just below the base of the handle. Draw the line a little higher around the handle to create the trunk. On each of the four sides of the carton, draw a semi-circular shape. This will create the elephant’s four legs.

2. With a good pair of scissors, cut along the line drawn around the carton and around the handle so that the cartoon separates into two (you may need grown-up help with this). And cut the semi-circular shape outs as well – putting those shapes to one side.

3. Now you have your basic elephant – it’s really that simple!

4. Using the shapes that were put to one side, you may like to add two ears and cut circles for eyes! These can be stuck on with glue, firmly holding in place until the glue becomes tacky and dries.

Time to decorate!
Once you have your basic elephant, there are lots of decoration options, it’s really up to you!

• You can paint the elephant. For this, you can use any colour of paint you may have. For an elephant grey, mix together white, black and a touch of blue. Make sure you paint the lid too. You can add in his feet and a tail and don’t forget to paint the eyes so this elephant can come to life!

• Alternatively, try decoupage.
This decoration will use coloured tissue paper and PVA glue. Brush a layer of PVA glue over an area and begin sticking torn pieces of tissue on the surface, brushing over the tissue with the glue to secure. This will dry clear and harden the surface. Make sure you brush into the all the creases and around the trunk so that the tissue covers the entire elephant, not forgetting the ears! You might like to use multi-coloured tissue and you can finish with sequins, flowers or paint on your own designs.

What to do with the leftovers?
There can be a large part of the carton left over, so to make sure we make use of as much as possible, why not make a desk tidy for your room.

Simply trim the top of the carton so you have a straight edge and it’s all ready to decorate.

Using decoupage, glue roughly torn pieces of coloured tissue onto the surface, brushing the PVA glue over the tissue to secure and harden the surface. Keep going until you have covered the whole container. You may like to match your colours to your room, use plain or patterned paper and create your own design.

You could also decorate your container with ribbons, stickers or any other decoration you have to hand.

We hope you enjoy this crafty introduction to upcycling!
For more, check out our Creative Challenge of the Week

As always, we’d love for you to share your elephants with us and show us how creative and inventive you can be reusing any leftovers! Tag us on social media @thebasegreenham or email [email protected]

Have fun and keep creative!